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But Still Effective
Scripture: Philippians 1:12-14; Philippians 4:11-13...
Track 15 of 15 in the Paul: Grace & Strength Mixed Together series
Running time: 1 hour, 09 minutes, 32 seconds.
Paul lived his life above the circumstances. I believe that is what allowed God to use the man so effectively. There were no circumstances that Satan could use against him to get him off track. The more the extreme circumstances, the better Paul was and the more he won others to Jesus.

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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.

Ö, But Still Effective

As I get older and move along in life, I find that to some of those around me, I am on the older side and when on that side of life, I feel my ideas are considered old and less relevant in todayís world. I have moved into an interesting phase in life, when people look for the brightest and those who can get things done, I find myself father down on the list of those being called to do the impossible. It doesnít really bother me but as I look around the church today, there are so many younger men and women taking up the roles of leadership who donít know me or even know to call me. Many in the church today find themselves in those situations. It is easy as one gets older to believe in the lie that in the older years of life, the best days are over.

Does anyone feel the same way I do? What are your circumstances?

I want to open our lesson today with a quiz. It is really an easy quiz because all the questions deal with todayís issues and people we should know and recognize. Every one is famous so all of us will know the answers. Every answer includes someone very important, so important that they get paid massive amounts of money for what they doÖsimply being famous.

1. Name the 5 wealthiest people in the world.
2. Name the last 5 Heisman Trophy winners.
3. Okay, how about 10 of the most recent gold metal winners for the previous Olympics.
4. Name the past 5 Miss America Pageant winners.
5. Name at least 5 people who have won the Nobel Peace Prize.
6. Name the last 5 World Series winners in proper order.
7. Can you name the most valuable players from each series?

If you had to write down your answers and then turn your test in for a grade, how many of you could have named at least three in each category and get the answers right?

Now, letís take another test. See if you can get these questions answered correctly.

1. Name two teachers who made a difference in your life.
2. Name three friends who were there for you during a difficult time.
3. Name a mentor or two who believed in you and thought of you as someone worthwhile.
4. Name 5 people you enjoy spending time with just because theyíre fun t be with and you admire them greatly.
5. Name three to four heroes, living or dead, whose lives have inspired and encouraged you.

Well how did you do with these questions? Did you do better that the first list? Why?

The first list includes people who have great credentials or who have large financial portfolios. They all have won many awards or are famous because their faces are on the front of magazine covers. But in reality, these people have little t no impact on our lives. Thatís why you have forgotten their names. The real difference makers in life are those people who have pulled up close to you and become a dear friend, and in some cases, your hero.

Let me ask some more questions. These are harder and very personal.

1. When you pass away from this life, how will people remember you?
2. What character quality will linger in their minds, prompting them to say that your life was an effective life?
3. Why would they want to pause at your name etched on your headstone?

We end our series on Paulís life. The last few months of his life was spent in house arrest and eventually in prison awaiting execution? As you think of Paul, what character quality do you think stood out the most? What quality do you think the Christians who really knew him thought about the most?

I love to read the letter Paul wrote to the Philippian church. It is easy to forget as one reads the letter that Paul is in prison as he writes the letter and suffered much during those times. Most scholars believe these were some of the last words Paul wrote to the church. I donít know about you, but for someone who was so fired up for Jesus and eager to preach the Word to anyone he could meet, sitting in a prison cell isolated, out of circulation, had to be frustrating and depressing. I know it might have crushed me.

Philippians 1:12-14 (NIV)
Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.

I donít know about you but if I were in his situation, I donít know if I could say those words and really mean it. When most people would wilt away in a prison awaiting execution, Paul saw his circumstances as prime time to win others for Christ. What was his secret? What does it take to be able to bear all things no matter how horrible and still remain focused on the mission? To Paul, it all had to do with contentment.

Philippians 4:11-13 (NIV)
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

How important is contentment in life? According to what Paul wrote, what does true contentment result in? An attitude of freedom that allows God to accomplish anything and everything through you as God so desires.

What does contentment allow you to do? Escape the cages we imprison ourselves in. Too often the reason why we donít chase after the wild goose is because we aren't content in life. We wonít allow ourselves to go where God wants us or do the things he asks because our discontentment drives us into a cage; a cage we make that holds us back fro running free with the Holy Spirit. If we could talk with Paul in class today, how do you think he would define being content?

Paul lived his life above the circumstances. I believe that is what allowed God to use the man so effectively. There were no circumstances that Satan could use against him to get him off track. The more the extreme circumstances, the better Paul was and the more he won others to Jesus. Where did Paul get this great quality? Are some people just born with the ability?

Before you get too far in your answer to my question, letís look back and remember who Paul use to be like and where he came from. What was Saul like? Do you feel he was a content man in life? Where did his contentment come from?

Paul learned to be content. It is not something that comes naturally. In fact, it is quite opposite the natural impulses found in man. Man has the impulse to want more, see more, do more and be more and better than others. But a man or woman who is spiritually content is a whole different person. Their drive, their desires their efforts are motivated by different forces.

What is the first step in becoming a person with Godly contentment? Control of the attitude leads to another attitude that is learned.

Attitude Governs Contentment

Paul allowed the power of the Holy Spirit to teach him how to encounter a broad spectrum of stressful situations. Paul had to learn how to sustain an excellent attitude. He rose above his circumstances and learned to live beyond them. In fact, Paul learned to use every bad circumstance as an opportunity to win others to Christ. As he found himself in negative circumstances, he knew others also were there with him. Negative circumstances can suck the hope out if a person. Paul had just the answer and solution to revive true hope, permanent hope. He used his circumstances as an advantage against the enemy. Satan didnít really understand what his evil was doing for Paul; it made Paul stronger rather than weaker.

How about you? Does Paulís example make you feel like a loser? I donít know about you but my attitude when things are going well is not like Paulís. But does is it have to be like that? What are the first steps in cultivating the right attitude? How do we get to the point that my attitude about everything is bolstered by Jesus and his power? Two things: Prayer and knowing and living I Godís Word. Basically, developing a close relationship that our actions and attitude become more and more like His.

There are 4 very important attitudes of a learned contentment.

1. Paul recommends we put on an attitude of unselfish humility.

How many of you when you find yourself in a bad situation tries to escape it? How many of you decided to stay in it so God could work through you? When did Paul ever ask God to remove him from prison, get away from the guards he was chained to?

Philippians 2:3-5 (NIV)
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Do you think Jesus wanted to go to the cross and die? But he did it anyways because it was better for us. Do you think Paul enjoyed being in prison. But he stayed there as long as God wanted and tried to win as many to Christ as possible.

2. Paul recommends we develop an attitude of joyful acceptance.

What do you think Paul meant by joyful acceptance?

Philippians 2:14-15 (NIV)
Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.

Paul did not complain or grumble. Too many Christians complain or criticize because ďthings are wrongĒ or ďtimes are toughĒ. Paul wants the church to develop joy, Godly Joy so they rise above small time bickering. Joy is contagious. A joyful person is attractive. A grump is not and no one wants to be with a crump. How many churches today are avoided by the unbeliever because they are GRUMPS?

3. Paul wants us to develop the attitude of strong determination.

Have you decided that you were going to do something no matter what? The harder someone tried to stop you, the more determined you became to do what you wanted. That is what Paul is describing except, the determination is much different than you think.

Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV)
Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

What is the goal? What is it that we are to strain for? Heaven? Pleasing God!!

4. Develop an attitude of genuine thanksgiving.

Colossians 4:2-3 (NIV)
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.